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A Couple Three Things: Vernon Rallies, Chiefs Drop Sixth Straight

October 13, 2013 Leave a comment

I said to Soupy Campbell after the second period:

“I’m curious to see this team play with a big lead in the third period.”

For 14 minutes in the third period, playing with that lead looked pretty good. Then the final five minutes happened. Here’s a couple three things to take away from Saturday night at Prospera Centre:

1. The Chiefs were in control for two periods in this one. They got some contributions from the power play (finishing 2 for 5, giving the league-worst percentage a nice bump) found some life with a re-juggled lineup (Jaret Babych and Ben Butcher lined up on the top line with Austin Plevy tonight. Butcher scored, and Babych had a couple assists.) Plevy was real good in the second period especially, driving to the net with no regard for…anything really. Took the net out a couple times too. Fearless. That’s when he’s most effective.

Lyndon Stanwood was great again, too. His best save came off a 2 on 1, coming across with the left pad to rob Tyler Pofelofskie to keep it 4-1 at the time. Chilliwack also had a couple good penalty kills at 2-1 in the second period, and Stanwood was a big part of that – It led to two more goals from TJ Roche and Kurt Black, padding a lead that seemed insurmountable after 40.

2. The Chiefs let off the gas a touch in the third period, which is human nature when you’ve got a three goal lead at home. Credit to Vernon for not going away. It’s apparent that this Chiefs team is fragile right now, and you could see it start to fray after Mason Blacklock’s first goal to cut the lead to 4-2. At 4-2, it was ‘All good.’

Liam Coughlin’s marker moments later (on a chance that also started from behind Chilliwack’s net) followed, and it was ‘Uh-oh’.

I don’t want to say the tying goal (also from Blacklock) was a matter of time, but when you’ve got a fragile group that’s a little desperate for a win, it starts to creep into the back of your mind. It’s also why Harvey Smyl called timeout after the third goal to settle the boys down a little bit. No matter. Mason Blacklock converted yet another centering pass in the slot, beating Stanwood high to the glove, and everyone in the building was left to wonder what happened.

3. As you can imagine, the Chiefs were a little rattled after that. You can’t blame them. As a result, they looked tenative in the overtime, more concerned with not making mistakes. Jason Byrd’s winner came off a big rebound on a partial 2 on 1 that Shay Laurent lost in his feet, and that was that.

As I tweeted earlier in the night, learning sucks sometimes. It’s one of those things that a struggling team has to go through, and it’s certainly something they won’t forget when they find themselves with a lead in the third period. Can’t sit back and go into HOLD ON mode while the other team dictates the tempo. That’ll hurt you once every twenty times up 4-1 late.

And unfortunatley, for the Chiefs, that once in 20 hurt was Saturday night when they could have really used the full two points. Langley Wednesday. Take the positives. On to the next one.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

A Couple Three Things: Chiefs Drop One In Vernon

October 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Preface: HBO has been running ‘The Sopranos’ again. It remains one of my favourite shows. During the final season, Phil Leotardo, Capo in John Sacramone’s New York crew, made a habit of telling other guys ‘I’ma tell ya a couple three things.’ when he needed to relay some information.

I always liked that line. So, on the heels of the Chiefs fifth straight loss, 4-1 to the Vernon Vipers at Kal-Tire Place on Friday….

‘Im’a tell ya a couple three things.’

1. Lyndon Stanwood gave this team a chance. The Chiefs were outshot 29-14 in the second and third periods. Stanwood had to be sharp on a few chances in tight, otherwise it could have been worse than 4-1. I’ve got a lot of respect for the way Stanwood competes every night, and the guy is very  focused when it comes to his preparation. You know you’re getting his best every night, and that’s all you can ask.

2. Vernon moved the puck with confidence on a couple power plays in the 2nd period early, and they built on it. The Vipers took over the game from halfway through the 2nd period on. The Chiefs hung with them for awhile, but ‘hung in there for awhile’ doesn’t usually translate to wins.

3. Vernon is probably better than their record shows. They were missing key cogs like Ryan Renz, TJ Dumonceaux, and Brendan Pearsley. No matter. Mason Blacklock, Demico Hannoun, and Dexter Dancs were all more than enough.

*Jake Hand scored his first BCHL goal Friday. Outside of Stanwood, Hand may have been one of the better Chiefs on Friday.

It’s hard to find positives right now though, guys. It really is.

On to the rubber match in Chilliwack Saturday.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Monday Conversation: Mathieu Tibbet

October 9, 2013 Leave a comment

Veteran Chiefs winger Mathieu Tibbet joined me Monday night on 89.5 The Drive’s Sports Talk Live.

We covered his turning 20, the progression from year one to year three, when he’ll explode offensively, and hypothetically playing pro in Vegas, because who wouldn’t want to do that?

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Express Roll Early, Often

October 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Man.

Some things after a 9-4 Coquitlam victory Saturday night:

This is my third season with the team. I’ve never seen a Chiefs team as unprepared as they were in the first period Saturday. It was jarring, and I’ve sugar coated some tough outings for this group in the past. A lot of the talk before the game was about limiting turnovers – 45 seconds in, the puck is turned over behind the net, and Ryan Rosenthal cashes in for the Express. Just like that. And it got worse. Josh Halpenny was yanked after the second goal on six shots, and even the feel-good moment of Jordan Kawaguchi scoring his first career BCHL goal was erased in exactly 12 seconds when Corey Mackin let a shot go from between the circles that hit a body in front and made it’s way past Lyndon Stanwood. 4-1 in a blink after the 16 year old Kawaguchi gave them some needed life.

There was also Canon Pieper’s second goal of the game, when he went through the whole team shorthanded from behind centre and scored to make it 3-0 before Kawaguchi’s tally. Nearly end to end. Shorthanded. C’mon, man.

There wasn’t much to like tonight from a Chilliwack standpoint as you can clearly tell, and as anybody at Prospera Centre tonight can attest.

– Austin Plevy got the monkey off his back, scoring a nice shorthanded goal on a partial breakaway. Brandon Volpe set Andrew Silard for a pretty 2 on 1 goal, moments after Silard came flying in to throw a hit on an Express defenseman, and nearly obliterated Volpe instead. That was a strange sequence to say the least.

Kurt Black scored again – his team leading 3rd of the season.

Josh Halpenny came back in to start the 3rd after getting the hook early – Matt Berry welcomed him back by scoring from just inside centre ice.

Two more posts hit by Chiefs – Jaret Babych with another one in the third, and Kyle Westeringh deked Pierce Dushenko to the backhand on a penalty shot – and hit both posts.

Cooper Rush was tossed out for a hit from behind on Joey Santucci in the second period, and then Eric Roberts took a puck in the mouth, which forced him to the hospital for stitches, leaving the Chiefs with four defensemen. Jake Hand, occasional powerplay quarterback, slid back to D for the remainder of the game.

Full marks to the Express. Prepared. Opportunistic. Execution. Barry Wolff’s team had it Saturday.

Gotta be ready to go every night in this league. The Chiefs found out why. It doesn’t get easier, with a home and home against Vernon set for October 11th and 12th. The first of two goes on the road at Kal-Tire Place.

*Quick nod to Chiefs winger Cole Sartorio, who had surgery Saturday to repair a broken leg suffered in the game Friday night. Get well soon, Cole.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Express Take Weekend Opener

October 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Some quick things following a 5-2 Chilliwack loss to Coquitlam Friday night:

1. People are beginning to tell Cam and I we sound like broken records. We do. I know. That’s because the story remains the same for this team for the most part. They had chances tonight in Coquitlam, and in fact did a better job getting pucks to the net, with 44 shots on Gordie Deifiel, but when it came time to bury those chances….there were posts (3 of ’em) or Deifel would make a great save (A Jake Hand chance in the second stands out) or a puck would roll precariously off the goal line. Gotta finish. Didn’t do enough of it tonight. Again.

2. Tough sequence in the third period: Carter Cochrane scores a powerplay goal by going to where all defensemen should: to the right of the crease down low – and the boys have a little momentum as they cut the lead to 4-2 less than two minutes into the third. They seem alive. They look alive. They can feel it….they go right back to the powerplay with a chance to score another…..and then Shay Laurent gets caught up at the offensive blueline, which leads to a Coquitlam 2 on 1, where of course Ryan Rosenthal finishes on a shorthanded backbreaker. That kind of stuff is infuriating, and I don’t wear a uniform, or coach.

3. Doug Ast’s comments after the game were certainly interesting: I want to play the back end of this home and home right now. I wish we could. – He may have sensed something tonight. And although the Express won the game, it’s not like the Chiefs were run out of the building or anything. Far from it. It’s the little things and the attention to detail that catch up with a team throughout 60 minutes. When you’re a struggling team, every little turnover outside your blueline, or squandered quality chance gets magnified by 50. Things WILL turn, and they’ll turn soon. I just don’t totally know when yet, although I think Coach Ast has a feeling it’s coming.

4. A nod to Barry Wolff’s team – they executed well enough to win, while the Chiefs did not. That line of the Pieper twins (Bo and Cannon) along with Jace Hennig presented some problems defensively, and Corey Mackin provided a big boost with two goals and an assist. That victory for Coquitlam snapped a three game home losing streak.

5. Personally, I liked Jaret Babych’s game tonight. Could have had a goal, (hit a post) fought, was physical, and engaged from the get-go. That’s a veteran guy who needs to play that way consistently if the group is going to have sustained success.

6. The powerplay finished 2 for 7 on the night. When you consider where the numbers were coming into the game with the extra man – 1 for 30 – I think they’ll take that. And Zach Diamontoni has 2 of those three powerplay markers this year.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Train Tracks: Chiefs Begin Weekend Set V. Express

October 4, 2013 Leave a comment
Friday night's stage in Coquitlam

Friday night’s stage in Coquitlam

Chilliwack Chiefs (1-4-1-0, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Coquitlam Express (3-2-0-2, 4th in Mainland Division)

(Friday October 4th, Poirier Sports & Leisure Complex –  6:30 pregame/7 pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

The Chilliwack Chiefs continue to search for their 2nd victory – and the first in regulation time – of the season Friday evening in Coquitlam against the division rival Express. (Poirier Sports & Leisure Centre, 7pm)

A lack of goal scoring has been well documented to this point through six games for Chilliwack, with just eight. Perhaps Friday is the day where the narrative can turn a little bit – They’re facing a Coquitlam squad dealing with their own frustrations – three straight one goal losses on home ice, all to division opponents.

Coquitlam is led by new Coach Barry Wolff, who served as an assistant coach under Harvey Smyl in Langley. Wolff has inherited a club that’s undergone plenty of change as well – only six players remain from last year’s team, including leading scorer Adam Rockwood. The veteran playmaker has been just that, with 12 assists in his first seven games. Marc Biega and Cal Hofford are back on the blueline, along with former Chief Ben Israel, who was sent to the Express in the Phil Zielonka trade last spring.

There’s nothing wrong with moral victories early in the season, but the Chiefs need to start seeing some results. If they can put together the type of first period they had Sunday against Salmon Arm – dictating the tempo, bringing energy on the forecheck, and getting pucks to the net – they’ll have a chance to be more succesful. It’ll start with Austin Plevy, their Captain and emotional leader, and trickle on down. Plevy has not scored yet this season after 30 last year, but he’s had his chances, and is close to breaking out.

Blake Gober and Jake Hand, two new forwards who will be counted on to produce, were healthy scratches on Sunday, and should be motivated to come out strong on the weekend given their next opportunities. Both have yet to find the back of the net, while combining for just one assist between the two of them in Chilliwack colours.

I’d love to continue to sit here like a supportive hockey parent and say ‘They just need to keep chipping away!’ (Which is true.) but finish is finish. They need more of it. No other way to slice it.

One bright spot has been the play of Lyndon Stanwood in goal – He’s given the Chiefs an outright chance to win in three of his last four starts – although coaches have admitted his rebound control could be a little tighter. He’ll be in the fold this weekend to be sure.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Monday Conversation: Lyndon Stanwood

October 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Chiefs goaltender Lyndon Stanwood joined me on ‘Sports Talk Live’ Monday night on 89.5 The Drive.

Here it be:

Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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